Despite the difficult economic circumstances facing UK businesses at present, a 2022 study by accounting software firm FreeAgent revealed that 64% of British adults plan to start their own business in the future. Thanks to the rise of the internet, many of these new enterprises will be launched online. Whatever people sell – products, services or their skills, the digital shop window is increasingly replacing the traditional brick and mortar shop.
Even though the internet has made starting a new business easier than ever before, these ventures need to comply with a web of legal obligations. It can be very easy for a new company to end up on the wrong side of the law.
These important new businesses need all the help they can get on their journey, which is why Business Companion has launched its new guide to Starting an Online Business.
The resource has been designed to help traders who sell goods online to establish just what their legal responsibilities are and to provide new businesses with an effective introduction to the UK’s trading and consumer laws.
Coming in easily digested sections, Starting an Online Business explains the distinctions between selling items online as a business or as an individual, and the different obligations that must be met under consumer protection law. The ‘Am I in business?’ section explores the circumstances under which a person selling goods via online marketplaces such as eBay could be considered to be operating a business. There’s also a handy flowchart which will help sellers understand what sort of venture they are running and what action they need to take.
This part of the guide also discusses VAT registration and lays out the threshold at which a private individual selling goods online could potentially be deemed to be running a business. What a person might consider a hobby or side hustle can often actually be a business in the eyes of the law.
Once it is established that a person selling goods online could be classified as a trader, the second section of the guide addresses frequently asked questions about terms and conditions and legal compliance. The questions are taken from the experiences of actual sellers.
Part 3 of the guide provides model terms that can be used as a template by traders to help them ensure they meet the requirements of consumer protection law. These terms can be applied across a range of selling mechanisms, including social media platforms, online marketplaces, proprietary e-commerce websites, and any other platform on which a trader sells goods and which is operated by another business.
Available in website format and as a handy downloadable PDF booklet, Starting an Online Business is an essential resource for anyone who needs a quick, reliable and up-to-date answer to a query about the nature of their business and its responsibilities. Like all the information available on Business Companion, it is free and is written by consumer law experts in plain English.
About Business Companion
Business Companion is a free online resource published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It provides businesses of all sizes and across all sectors with expert guidance on a wide range of consumer protection law issues.